Understanding patchy ethnic skin

2017-03-08 06:00

THE difference between African skin and Caucasian skin is the size and distribution of the melanosomes.

The more melanosomes and the bigger they are, the darker the skin. Black skin is thicker than white skin due to the stratum corneum having more layers and a more compact dermis with larger, more numerous fibroblasts.

The treatment protocol for pigmented non-white skin types is very different to that of lighter skin.

The key to success with skin of colour is to always treat with minimum inflammation. Avoid overstimulation of the skin as the slower melanin degradation increases the need to be careful of cosmetic treatments that cause any injury to the skin. This includes unsuitable lasers, dermabrasion, peels, micro-needling and excessive friction on the skin. Ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids and glycolic acid should be avoided.

The use of banned ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury offers short-term results but leaves the skin burnt black in the long term. Chemical burns can leave permanent scars.

Lifestyle and hormonal changes can affect the distribution of colour, leading to sunspots, age spots or melisma.

Ladies overzealous about facial hair removal using methods such as hot wax, threading and tweezing, eventually experience dark and patchy facial discolouration. IPL and SHR lasers offer short-term hair reduction but the hair will grow back.

For a permanent hair removal protocol, Duzimed Advanced Cosmetic Laser Clinic recommends the Diode Laser Permanent Hair Removal. This offers a painless, maximum penetration treatment into the thicker ethnic skin type.

Eczema is believed to occur twice as frequently in darker skin.

If not treated early enough it can increase the risk of pigmentation.

Acne is linked to hyperpigmentation and therefore is of greater concern to darker skins. Oral antibiotics can cause darkening of the skin for several months after use.

Darker skins are also more at risk of developing keloid scarring post injury.

Shaving bumps occur as a result of shaving the face. As beard hairs are coarse and curly, they easily become ingrown, thereby causing eruptions that lead to darkened areas on the facial skin.

The professional protocol treatment using almond oil and AHAS (alpha hydroxy acid) increases the cellular turnover, normalises skin functioning, softens the skin, minimises re-growth of ingrown hair and alleviates the pigmented lesions.

Warts and skin tags, although unattractive, are harmless growths formed when skin begins to overgrow and envelope collagen fibres protruding from the surrounding skin.

These are commonly found where there is friction, and are often associated with insulin resistance and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Because these lesions are raised above the skin the healing rate is quick and there is no risk of scarring as long as treatment does not cause inflammation. Cholesterol lumps are soft plaques of lipids usually found underneath the skin around the eye area as a result of poor lipid metabolism. These lesions can be removed non-invasively by drying up the lipids topically on the surface of the skin in just one treatment.

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